Strain, Sprain or Break: What’s the Difference and How to Tell

Taking part in sports and recreational activities is an important part of a healthy, physically active lifestyle for kids, but injuries such as sprains, strains or breaks can, and do, occur. As a parent, we know that you want to do everything in your power to keep your child safe, but sometimes that is not possible in these circumstances. What you can do is get educated on the different types of injuries which will help you feel more prepared.

Pain, swelling and inflammation are common among sprains, strains and broken bones, but there are key differences among them.

What’s the Difference Between a Strain, Sprain or Break?


Strains affect muscles and tendons and can happen when muscles or tendons are pulled or overstretched as well as overused.


Sprains occur when the ligaments that support the various joints throughout your body are overstretched or torn. In severe cases, ligaments are completely torn and are no longer able to support the joint properly.


Breaks happen when the bone has been shattered or fractured. These injuries require immediate medical attention and may cause numbness and severe pain.

When to Seek Treatment

See a provider if your child has immediate pain after an accident, pain that wakes them at night, persistent pain or they are not using the affected body part.

If an accident does happen, please keep Pediatric Urgent Care of Northern Colorado in mind. We are ready to help and treat your child 365 days a year! If you have any questions, please contact us!